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Probiotics are food ingredients containing microorganisms that are great for health. A very common example of probiotics is yogurt and garlic. Other dairy related products that are fermented are also considered to contain probiotics. These food items contain live and good-for-health bacteria. Most of the probiotic bacteria are variants of Lactobacillus acidophilus. These probiotic microorganisms mainly affect the digestion process and gastrointestinal activities.
Contrary to the popular belief, probiotics have been in use for over a century. The twentieth-century Russian scientist Metchnikoff is credited with the discovery of probiotics. It is believed that he hypothesized the benefits of friendly bacteria present in dairy products way back in 1909. However, scientific research about the topic started only in the 1950s.
There have been many reported benefits of probiotics. The problem is that a large number these benefits have not been scientifically proven yet. These are not backed by solid empirical data making some a bit skeptical. Many practicing physicians are of the opinion that probiotics work wonders on some people, but not on all. It may rectify several digestive problems in some people, while, in others it may not have any obvious effect. The following are some of the reported benefits associated with the use of probiotics.
Controlling the “Traffic” in Gastrointestinal Tract
The most prominent advantage of probiotics is in streamlining the gastrointestinal activity. It can prevent diarrhea and other sudden digestive disorders. If you travel continuously, you might encounter unfamiliar and troublesome food items. Continuous intake of such food items invariably results in stomach problems, know popularly as traveler’s diarrhea. Probiotics are reputed to have preventive properties against such stomach discomfort.
The microorganisms present in probiotics are believed to have the ability to nullify the effect of harmful bacteria that cause stomach issues. In addition, probiotics make the gastrointestinal tract predominantly acidic in which harmful bacteria cannot survive. As a result, probiotics are commonly used to treat or prevent digestion-related diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal bloating, flatulence, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Preventing Certain Diseases
There have been reports about the successful use of probiotic microorganisms for treating urinary tract disorders. Vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, and recurrence of bladder infections are some of the illnesses against which probiotics are effective. For example, if a woman tests positive for group B strep before giving birth, she can use garlic inserted in the birth canal while in labor to ward off the bad bacteria. In this case the probiotics in the garlic clove are acting as an antibiotic towards the strep.
Probiotics are also reputed to have the ability to increase the immunity of a person. Some physicians have observed that the immunity and resistance of several patients increased because of the regular intake of probiotics-containing food items. In addition, it has been reported that having probiotics-rich food regularly is good for preventing many diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, and some forms of ulcer.
No matter how you look at it, there is no reason to not incorporate probiotic into your diet. They have endless benefits and are extremely affordable in natural form. Keep your fridge stocked with yogurt, fermented dairy products, beer and other natural sources.